Finding Genius Podcast
The Vast Diversity of Parasite Cell Biology: Dr. Lilach Sheiner Talks Variety and Utility
Feb 21, 2020 · 24 min
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Because the parasites that cause toxoplasmosis and malaria are somewhat similar and are accessible, they offer researchers important information.

Dr. Sheinber explains her work by discussing 

  • why the untapped variety of parasite cell biology might offer further understanding,
  • how different types of mitochondria—human versus parasite—keep cells alive in very different ways and why that's important, and
  • how parasites have maneuvers that could improve medicine, such as the toxoplasmosis  parasites' ability to cross the barrier between blood and brain. 

Senior lecturer at the Royalty Society of Edenborough, research fellow in parasitology, and leading expert in eukaryotic cell biology, Dr. Lilack Sheiner runs a lab that closely studies the parasites responsible for toxoplasmosis and malaria. This close examination of parasite cell biology has revealed a better understanding of how they function and how we might better prevent disease caused by these parasites.

Her incentives for this study is twofold: the diversity in parasite cell biology itself is an important part of understanding organisms in the larger picture of biology. Additionally, because parasites are responsible for some human diseases, a better understanding of parasite cell biology may lead to disease prevention. She describes numerous examples that reveal this diversity and explains how useful the knowledge is in turn. For example, because mitochondria have different mechanisms for different organisms, doctors can implement a drug that kills the malarial parasite by mitochondrial harm while leaving the human cell alive.

Dr. Sheiner also talks about abilities parasites have that may help us create new drugs. For example, she describes scientists studying how the toxoplasmosis parasite is able to do something scientists haven't been able to implement in drugs: crossing the blood/brain barrier. If scientists could create drugs that can do this, they might make headway into treating many neurological conditions. Therefore, if researchers learn more about this parasite's ability, they may discover a drug-delivery technology.

For more, see her website: http://lilachsheiner.wixsite.com/sheinerlab-wtcmp

She's also on twitter: @SheinerLab

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